A Democrat in Connecticut who many believe is the favorite to replace retiring, disgraced Senator Chris Dodd was caught recently talking about his service in Vietnam.
The problem? He never actually served in Vietnam. Instead, he was a Marine reservist who served in Washington DC doing part-time drills and managing toys-for-tots drives.
At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”
There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat who is now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.
The deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.
In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he enlisted in the Marine Reserve, landing a coveted spot in a unit in Washington, D.C., which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. The unit conducted part-time drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a reservist. That sort of service is important as well. But if you served during the Vietnam War, but your service was limited to part-time drills in Washington DC, then you shouldn’t be saying that you “served in Vietnam.” You served during Vietnam.
For the record, I don’t understand why politicians lie about their military service. Lots of political leaders these days never served in the military. There’s nothing wrong with that. I consider military service to be a plus, but not a requirement. I look upon such service favorably, but I’m not going to dismiss a candidate because he/she never served. I think most Americans feel that way these days, so why lie?